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Scots ministers forced to pay out for injuries caused by poorly maintained cycle path

An Edinburgh cyclist who suffered a broken cheekbone after crashing on a poorly maintained cycle path in the city has been awarded £5,750 in damages by a Scottish judge after he successfully sued Scottish ministers.

Iain Anderson brought his case in the Edinburgh Court of Session against Historic Scotland, which is a Scottish Executive Agency meaning final legal responsibilty lay with Scottish ministers, after crashing in Holyrood Park in August 2005.

The judge, Lord Bannatyne, ruled that the evidence pointed to a poorly sited sunken drain cover on the cycle path through the park as being the probable cause. Lawyers acting for the ministers had argued that there might have been other causes and that Mr Anderson might have been partly to blame – he was wearing a helmet at the time.

In his evidence Mr Anderson, an actuarial analyst, said that he couldn't remember anything between slowing down in case there were joggers on the path and talking to a paramedic afterwards. The court heard that as a result of his injuries he suffered facial numbness and had difficulty chewing. A motorist who saw the crash told the court that Mr Anderson had not been riding fast or erratically and that he saw him go over the bike's handlebars as though he had struck something solid.

In other evidence the judge was told that at the point the crash happened the cycleway made a sudden change in direction the surface also changed from smooth tarmac to concrete, and that the sunken drain was just after the bend at the end of a gully. There were no signs to warning signs before the bend. In addition the path was only 1.8m wide – less than the recommended 2.5m.

In his judgement Lord Bannatyne said: "There was no evidence of any other possible reason for Mr Anderson's accident.

"There was nothing in the evidence as to the way Mr Anderson had been riding his bicycle in the lead up to the accident which was likely to have caused to accident."

Speaking to BBC Scotland after the ruling an Historic Scotland spokesman said: "This was an unfortunate incident and we hope Mr Anderson is recovering well.

"Holyrood Park has a good reputation for health and safety.

"This is the first incident recorded in this area of the park and we are addressing the issue associated with this one."

Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.